SCOTT ELLIS got the better of a pack of Sunderland Harriers to become the 24th winner of the North East Vending Penshaw Hill race last night.
The 25-year-old unknown North Shields Polytechnic athlete defied the threat from the host club’s challengers to win convincingly in the joint slowest time in the event’s history –17 minutes 9 seconds.
But it was not all about times in the muddy conditions that caught many a runner out in the footwear they wore.
But the fell runner specialist, whose best performance before his surprise Penshaw victory, was second place in the Helvellyn trail race last year, said: “I didn’t decide to run until this afternoon. It was a complete surprise to me that I won it. There were far better runners behind me. I would never have beaten Nathan on the flat.’’
It was Sunderland Harrier Nathan Reed, who made a late decision to compete, who filled second place, 12 seconds behind Ellis. But he never got into the race until the last lap.
The defending champion said: “I wore flats and didn’t bring my spikes and suffered for that. I caught the leaders up on the second lap, but, as soon as I hit the hill, through the woods, I was slipping back down again. It was hopeless.’’
However, on the final grueling climb to the finish at the famous monument, Reed managed to haul himself into second, to beat his clubmate Kevin Jeffress by two seconds.
In fourth spot was another Harrier, Michael Barker, who was a further 10 seconds back.
Sunderland Stroller Steve Rankin finished fifth after showing a good turn of speed to win the prime award to the top of the hill on the opening lap.
Harrier Steve Potts returned to the race after a long absence and was rewarded with sixth place, one place ahead of clubmate Tim Field, who was the first veteran to finish.
But 18-time winner Brian Rushworth’s attempt to replicate his 2012 victory ended in disappointment. The 51-year-old was below par, suffering from a stomach problem and, despite being in contention, was forced to drop out on the second lap.
Jarrow and Hebburn’s Angela McGurk, the 2001 winner, triumphed again in the women’s race (20.54), finishing 21st overall.
Sunderland Strollers enjoyed great success in the women’s race, with Angela Thorpe runner-up (21.22) and Jenna Maynard winning the prime award. Maria Standaloft (South Shields) was third in the race (21.47).
Results: 1 Scott Ellis (North Shields Poly) 17:09, 2 Nathan Reed (Sund Harr) 17:21, 3 Kevin Jeffress (Sund Harr) 17:23, 4 Michael Barker (Sund Harr) 17:33, 5 Steve Rankin (Sund Stroll) 17:40, 6 Steven Potts (Sund Harr) 17:52, 7 Tim Field V45 (Sund Harr) 18:18, 8 Rob Hand V50 (Dur City) 18:31, 9 Paul Weir (Sedgefield) 18:37, 10 Michael Laws (Sund Stroll) 18:45, 11 Simon Johnson (Sth Shields) 18:52, 12 Jon Dobson V45 (Sund Harr) 19:02, 13 Paul Redman V50 (Sund Harr) 19:16, 14 Graham Pullan (Sund Stroll) 19:30, 15 Johnny Howe (Sund Harr) 19:42, 16 James Myers (Sund Harr) 20:02, 17 Alan Knebel V40 (Sund Harr) 20:13, 18 Alex Mitchell (Sund Harr) 20:15, 19 Simon Pryde V40 (Tyne Bridge) 20:18, 20 Michael Heskett (Sund Harr) 20:41, 21 Angela McGurk (Jarr & Hebb) 20:54, 22 Tony Alinson V40 (Sund Harr) 21:02, 23 John Tollih V50 (Tyne Bridge) 21:08, 24 Chris Herkes (Dur City) 21:09, 25 Mustafa Gun (Sund Harr) 21:14, 26 Aidan Crow (Sund Stroll) 21:16, 27 Ashley Thorpe V35 (Sund Stroll) 21:22, 28 Michael Boyle (Sund Stroll) 21:23, 29 Mark Richardson (Unatt) 21:46, 30 David Purvis (Sund City Tri) 21:44, 31 Christopher Maynard (Unatt) 21:46, 32 Mairi Standaloft (Sth Shields) 21:47, 33 David Walker V45 (Sedgefield) 21:48, 34 Peter Richardson V60 (Sund Harr) 21:51, 35 David Brown (Elvet) 21:53, 36 Simon Gardner V40 Elvet 21:54, 37 Kevin Blyth V40 (Sund Stroll) 21:57, 38 Brian Cairns V40 (Sund Stroll) 21:58, 39 Chris Tack (North Shields Poly) 21:59, 40 Jessica Fox (Sund Harr) 22:02